Taddy Blazusiak edges Colton Haaker for SuperEnduro victory in Krakow
Taddy Blazusiak bowed out in style by securing the overall victory at the opening round of the Maxxis SuperEnduro World Championship in Krakow, Poland, last weekend.
Delivering the winning goods for the final time in his career, Blazusiak (PL-KTM) “raised the roof” of the Tauron Arena as he powered his KTM to the victory over Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker (USA) and Alfredo Gomez (S-KTM).
“No words can describe how happy I am,” enthused the six-time SuperEnduro champion Blazusiak. “It’s crazy how things have panned out for me these past few months.
“I worked really hard to get back after my injury in EnduroCross and then decided to skip the last round to get my thumb good again. It paid off and I was able to push 100% in Poland. It’s such an amazing feeling racing in front of my home fans so I gave it all I had on the track.
“I was hitting my lines and it’s amazing to get two race victories and the overall. I worked a lot during the past few months to be competitive but the way it all happened in Poland is just insane.
“To win the first two motos and cruise to second in the last one was just incredible. I couldn’t really ask for more. It was one hell of a ride and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my career.”
In the opening Prestige race, Blazusiak put his KTM out front early on, but a charge from Haaker saw him cross the finish line in second. However Haaker was then docked 10 seconds for overtaking on a yellow flag and Blazusiak inherited the win. With the dice rolling in his favour, the Polish rider carved his way through the pack early in the reversed-start race two. Hindered only by a small fall, he rode on to secure his second win of the night setting up for a winning end to his illustrious career. With Haaker escaping with the race lead, Blazusiak quickly slotted himself into second knowing it was more than enough to seal the deal. Crossing the finish line to a thundering applause from packed-to-capacity Tauron Arena, an emotional Blazusiak recorded a final and fitting victory.
Entering Poland as the defending world champion and newly crowned AMA EnduroCross Champion, all eyes were on Haaker to see if he could continue his winning ways. An initial win in race one indicated that indeed he would keep winning but docked 10 seconds for overtaking on a yellow flag dropped him to second. That unsettled him somewhat and a mistake riddled race two saw him place third. Regrouping, Haaker got back to winning form with victory in race three but it wasn’t enough to topple Blazusiak and he had to be content with runner-up on the night.
“It was a solid night for me. My riding was good and I felt I was the fastest guy throughout the night. I believe I showed the overall victory was well within my reach. In the first race I trailed Taddy for three laps before deciding to make my move for the lead. It just happened that I made my pass under yellow flags, so I ended up getting a 10-second penalty to finish second. In the second final the reverse start kind of got me. I came from way back to finish third. Then in the last race Taddy got me in the start so I followed him for a couple of laps before making my move for the lead. After that I kept checking out and despite a small fall I managed to get the win. The track in Poland was one of the hardest we’ve ever raced. For me it’s super important that I started the series on the right foot and I’m looking forward to the next round in Germany.”
Ending his night third overall was Gomez. Despite no training prior to Poland due to his extreme enduro commitments, Gomez was a model of consistency throughout the night – edging out Jonny Walker (GB-KTM) by one-point for third.
“I’m just so happy to get a spot on the overall podium,” explained Gomez. “I believe the key was being super consistent throughout the night. I may not be the fastest guy out there but consistency is so important in SuperEnduro. Two weeks ago I had no intentions of racing the series. I came to Poland with no expectations, straight after my trip to South America for the Roof of Africa. Racing without pressure worked well for me this time and I had loads of fun in Poland.”
Missing the podium by one point, Walker ended his night fourth overall. Fastest in the Akrapovic SuperPole Walker looked favourite for top honours, but a collection of mistakes throughout the night hampered his progress and he had to settle for fourth.
“It’s great to be back racing in the series again, but things just didn’t quite go how I hoped they would. After such a good championship last year, to end up getting hurt and not being able to fight for the title was tough. So it’s just great to be back racing,” commented the Brit. “But, to be honest, I struggled with the track tonight and couldn’t find a good rhythm. I made a few costly mistakes while passing backmarkers. I know I should’ve been third but it is what it is. There were positives, like my speed, so I’m taking the good things out of my night of racing in Poland. We have a bit less than a month to the next round in Germany, so the plan is to continue working hard for that. As much as I wanted to be winning, it’s cool that Taddy got to top the podium at his very last race. We’ve been teammates for five years and I’ve learned so much from him. Taddy is a legend of our sport so it’s a fitting end to his career that he’s going out on top.”
Completing the top five in his debut SuperEnduro season was USA’s Mike Brown (Husqvarna). Stepping up to the Prestige class for 2016/17, Junior World champion Manuel Lettenbichler (D-KTM) rounded out the top six.
“It was my first race in the senior class and it went pretty good actually. There were lots of friends and people from Germany so it kind of felt like I was racing in front of my home crowd. The track was quite tough and I ended up making a few mistakes. To come away with three top six results in my very first race in this class is something really cool. I really enjoyed the racing in Poland and I’m looking forward to my home race in January.”
Always proving one of the most competitive categories in the series, the Junior class saw three different heat race winners but it was Chile’s Benjamin Herrera (TM) who ultimately secured the overall victory while also winning race two. Improving throughout the night, South Africa’s Blake Gutzeit (Yamaha) overcame a bad start to his evening to eventually win the third and final race claiming the runner-up result. Set to become a serious threat in the championship, SuperEnduro rookie Kyle Flanagan (Sherco) won the opening race of the night. Slipping to eighth in race two, he rebounded to third in the final heat to secure the third step of the podium. Great Britain’s William Hoare (KTM) and Gethin Humphreys (Husqvarna) completed the top five.
In the FIM Europe class, Mike Hartmann (Husqvarna) got his title defence off to a winning start with the overall victory. Placing second in race one to Thomas Hostinsky (SVK-Husqvarna) and then taking victory in the second and final race gave him the top step of the podium. Despite a race one win, third in race two dropped Hostinsky back to second overall on the night. With a 4-2 scorecard, Marcel Teucher (D-KTM) completed the top three.
The 2016/17 Maxxis SuperEnduro World Championship continues with round two in Riesa, Germany on January 7.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.